View random article

What Are Hormones?

Hormones are the body’s messengers. They carry communication between the endocrine glands and the cells about the maintenance of the levels of chemicals contained in the blood stream. Hormones are catalysts for chemical changes and influence almost all biological processes in the body. Hormones coordinate many body processes which regulate the body. They are involved in determining energy levels in the body, growth, development, bodily changes at puberty, mood swings, activating or inhibiting the immune system, regulating metabolism, controlling the reproductive cycle, neural reactions that prepare the body for sex, mating, fighting or fleeing, sexual functions, hunger cravings and other bodily responses.

As the initiator of the communication, endocrine glands manufacture hormones and send them out though the blood stream with the messages. The main endocrine glands include the pituitary, thymus, thyroid, adrenal, pineal glands and the pancreas. Their aim when secreting hormones is to keep the body in a natural balance. After secretion by the gland, the hormones circulate awaiting recognition from the cells with a receptor that only responds to a specific hormone. On activation by the hormone, the cells know and begin to carry out the communicated function.

Two main types of hormones exist in the human body. These are steroids and peptides. Steroids are composed of cholesterol and determine most physical growth and development functions. Peptides are protein based amino acids. They regulate certain functions such metabolism, sleep and the amount of sugar in the body. Too few or too many hormones can cause illness and may require regulation through synthetic hormones.

Featured in Health